Inner City eScape
Observations from my bedroom window
The persistent hammering of my alarm clock penetrates my sleep.
I drag myself from slumber, grasping the last shred of my dream so that I can drag it into the here and now. Too late, it’s gone.
As I swing my legs over the side of the mattress and start probing around with my toes for the warmth of my sheep’s wool boots I wonder what I will see when I pull the heavy curtains back.
I can hear the beginnings of bird chatter. The squabbling of Rainbow Lorikeets as they feed on the Eculayptus flowers outside my bedroom window.
My feet finally find the warmth they are seeking and I jam them down into the wool interiors and reach for a jacket and my glasses from the bedside table.
As I part the curtains I can see that there is smoke in the air, a grey fug with a pink tinge to the slowly lightening sky. It’s autumn, a time when the rural councils burn back the undergrowth of the tangled Australian bush. A preventative measure that is not always completely foolproof. The forest burn off is always carried out in autumn when the winds are low and the temperature cooling.
To neglect this annual chore is to invite disaster. The memory of last summer’s bushfires not far from anyone’s memory. The death and destruction doesn’t affect us all directly, especially us from the city, but it is something we all feel.
I see the distant silouette of the high rise office buildings. Their long tall structures reaching into the sky, contrasting with the softness of trees in the foreground. The glass windows of these angular columns begin to glow golden as the sun rises from the east to hit the reflective surfaces. Such a beautiful city.
I unlock the glass sliding door to my balcony and glide the door back, breathing in the smell of burnt Eucalyptus and undergrowth. The fire is no where to be seen. The burning is thirty plus kilometres from the metropolitan area. A haze has settled during the night.
While everyone slept it slipped into the city and infiltrated the urban sprawl, working in cahoots with the falling temperatures.
It has polluted my clean washing left hanging on the clothesline and causes my breath to catch in my throat.
In the sash between my window and the jagged city scape are trees. Not all of them native. Some have found their way from South Africa, like the Jacaranda tree that paints the city with mauve flowers in Spring and later blankets the ground beneath with a mauve carpet. Only they are not mauve now, they are green and lush.
The native Eucalyptus trees with the remnants of yellow flowers are the cause of such joy and chatter among the brightly coloured parrots. Nectar eaters, they jostle for prime position on a branch. I can almost touch them. Clowns of the urban forest.
A tall pine tree competes with the buildings seeming to tower over the shorter monoliths but it is just a trick of perspective. Parallel power lines can be seen slicing their way through the tree tops delivering light and warmth to the homes below.
Chimney tops on rooftops stretch for as far as I can see. Punctuated by the green of mature trees that sprout from gardens and roadside verges. There is a park around a kilometre from my front gate and it is the tops of these trees that I can see. The rooftops are varied like a funky patchwork quilt. Old red tiles from the 1940s and colourbond tin on the slick new inner city dwellings.
My eyes are drawn as always to the weather vane sitting on the chimney top of a house off to the right. It is off kilter and the rooster is looking down towards the ground, its tail pointing to the sky at a jaunty angle.
The house to the left is empty of humans at the moment. Bereft of humans but certainly not of life. The roof gutters are overflowing with leaf litter and twigs and the garden has an over grown neglected look. It’s an old home, typical of this area. Red brick with a worn tin roof, probably built in the 1930s. The vast yard is filled with falling sheds and an outdoor toilet with a rusty door hanging from its hinges. Palm fronds have fallen to the ground and lay woven loosely together like a South Pacific house mat. Birds abound.
If I look straight ahead and stand on my tip toes I can see a circular, ripped trampoline and a children’s fort in the backyard directly behind me. The garden always has the well-used look of children and happiness. Late afternoon the sounds of children talking, squealing and laughing can be heard coming from this arena until it stops abruptly when an adult calls them in for dinner. This morning the garden is still and quiet and the play equipment has been abandoned in a hurry the night before.
A flaccid red and yellow ball sits punch-drunk on the grass. A child’s hat and discarded item of clothing are flung across the trampoline. At a glance they could be mistaken for a child laying facedown.
In the laneway directly below my window I can see a new tag that has appeared over night. Thick black spray paint forming the letters of a name, impossible to decypher. The new wall only just constructed last week has been claimed by the lane way dwellers. I have never seen them or heard them but they must be there in the hours from dusk to dawn with their spray cans and torches. The wall is sandstone, impossible to clean. They certainly know how to pick their surfaces. Unlike some neighbouring laneways that have been given over to graffiti the locals are waging a silent war in my lane.
I stamp my feet to elicit some life into my wool clad feet and stretch my arms above my head. Time to get on with another day. “Same time again tomorrow“ I say to myself as I pull the heavy sliding door closed on the bird chatter and aroma of bushfire smoke.
About the author
Freelance writer, amateur photographer, occasional performer of personal stories @Barefaced Stories. Lover of nature, music and art. I write content and copy for small businesses and teach part time in Perth, Western Australia